My mother always ensured that I had Black dolls surrounding me growing up. I even had a Black Raggedy Ann. One year, a doll came out that peed or something, but my mom wouldn’t get it for me until a year later when the Black version came out. My 5-year-old brain concluded that my mom was a “mean dummy” (though I would never say that aloud). I understand, now, that my mother wanted me to see myself and my beauty reflected in those dolls.
The Black Girls Rock, 2017 event reminded me of the importance of that. Seeing a theater of Beautiful, Black women left me feeling unstoppable, invincible, excited and plain giddy. I am an extraordinary being of unlimited potential. As Taraji started the show my saying, “the sky is not the limit, only the view.”
I felt the Black love, the theme of the event: rich, genuine and pure.
When Tarij opened the show with her hair in its natural state it immediately made the statement: we should fully love and embrace our Blackness—our Beautiful, Black selves—as we were born. Yara Shadidi shared that she uses art as her form of activism, ensuring that she only takes roles that reflect non-stereotypical roles of Black young women. She wants us to see ourselves wholly and not as a contrast to White people. She stated that White taught her what Black was not.
Issa Raye echoed these sentiments and spoke candidly about how she spent so much time describing herself by what she wasn’t: she wasn’t the prettiest, the funniest, the coolest. It’s so easy to do that in America, a place that has an American norm and ideal that doesn’t look like us. Each beautiful woman reminded us that we need to love ourselves for everything that we are.
Even Roberta Flack shared her struggles with insecurities. I lived in a world of not good enough, not young enough not pretty enough, too fat. Odd to hear from her—a woman whose voice wraps around me like a cashmere throw-blanket and takes me to a time when my parents were obviously in love.
Solange, my girl-crush, divulged that she still struggles with feeling insecure and struggling in the past with a language to define herself. She created her own, as did Issa and Yara and seemingly every Black woman who graced the stage. To believe in ourselves we must turn our lens inward. Our beauty is already here. We don’t have to look to anyone else to validate it.
Maxine Waters, our Auntie, spoke of the dangers of ingesting the junk-words others say about us. “They would have me believe-I’m too black; too confrontational; I’m too tough and too disrespectful of them but now I know I’m simply a strong Black woman. We should not take the backseat to anyone. I am you and you are me.
We are so phenomenal.
We are phenomenal. Despite a time when our country, our leadership, is telling us that we don’t matter, we have reacted to the hate encircling us by pushing closer to one another. The more we are hated; the more we love ourselves and each other. We are survivors. We are the flower that grows and blooms in the desert.